Stream Tender     Magazine

February  2016 Issue

Brook Trout — A Beautiful Member of the Trout Family!

    The brook trout was the first non-native trout to be transplanted in the province of Alberta. Just after the railroad was built around the turn of the century, the brook trout was transported from the eastern provinces of Canada to its new home in the Rocky Mountains.

    Brook trout are native to the Atlantic province’s streams, lakes and rivers, where it was, at that time, considered the primary sport trout by many anglers.

    I suspect that when residents of eastern Canada moved out west, they longed for their native trout species. After all, the brook trout is the most beautiful member of all of the trout family.

   When the brook trout first arrived in the Banff area, it was transported by milk jugs to many area streams and lakes, where it was released into new waters. Some of these new waters had been previously occupied by native cutthroat trout and bull trout.

    In modern times, many fisheries managers hold great contempt for this member of the trout family, because it has displaced most of our native trout on many trout streams.

    However, with the impacts of agriculture and development, many trout streams have degraded to the point that they would not support our native varieties of trout anyway.

    For some of our local small streams, the brook trout and brown trout are the only trout can can inhabit these streams.

    I believe that it is important to look after this new member of our trout family, out west here, in its new home. They may be considered a non-resident, non-native or invasive trout species, but they are definitely here to stay. There would be no way to get rid of them anyway!

    In my mind, the brook trout and brown trout are a perfect mix for streams that would not support other native varieties, under the present conditions of those waters.

 

    Presently, there are many streams in our area where the cutthroat trout and bull trout are in recovery, due to improved fisheries management programs. However, in the foothills areas, where stream conditions are different, there are good populations of both brown trout and brook trout.

    There is potential for a well balanced approach in how we manage both native and non-native trout species, without going to far on either side of the issue.

    Right now, many of the streams to the north of Cochrane, Alberta, hold good numbers of reproducing brown trout and brook trout. These trout provide good angling opportunities and they also support a variety of other wildlife that depend on them for a food source.

    With the main focus of fisheries managers in our area, concentrating on the bull trout and cutthroat trout recovery program, I hope that our non-resident varieties are not neglected.

    In Cochrane, the focus of the Millennium Creek and Bighill Creek projects has been on maintaining and enhancing both brown trout and brook trout populations. Bow Valley Habitat Development will continue to do so.

    I believe that there is plenty of potential in improving the fishery in this area, if we take care of these two fine sport fish!

Coarse Fish are an Important Resident of our Trout Streams!

    When the term “trout stream” is spoken, ones attention may focus solely on the sport fish that live in that flowing water.

    After all the sport fish are usually of primary interest to those who fish or those who know someone else who likes to fish.

    However, trout are not the only residents in all of our streams and rivers. There is a wide variety of other members of the fish family that occupy these stream  systems.

   These other fish are often referred to as coarse fish, which is not a very respectful title for any member of the fish family.

    Coarse fish are actually a very important part of most of a trout stream’s food chain. Feeding both trout and insects.

    Fish such as minnows and small suckers provide an important food source for hungry feeding trout, especially medium to large sized trout that depend on a larger portion of protein in their diet.

    When forage fish die in the stream channel, their bodies nourish certain types of aquatic invertebrates, thus enhancing other living things that reside in trout streams.

    The eggs that minnows and suckers deposit in the rocky bottom of a stream will also be consumed by both trout and stream insects.

    If there are numerous coarse fish in a trout stream, the trout can grow much larger in size!

Above: This is a white sucker. Other common suckers in our area are mountain and longnose suckers.

Above: This is a longnose dace.

Other common members of the dace family are the finescale and speckled.

Above: This is a five spine stickle-back minnow. The spines are located on the dorsal fin of this fish.

Above: This is a pearl dace. It closely resembles the lake chub in appearance.

Above: This is a Lake chub. Although it is called a lake chub, it is a very common resident of our trout  streams.

Below and to the right: These are photos of some of the coarse fish that occupy many of our area trout streams.

“Large Trout Still Linger in Jumpingpound Creek!”

    I am occasionally asked about the fly fishing in Jumpingpound Creek. My answer is usually “pretty good”, without too much for details. However, I do point out that the stream is an important spawning tributary to the Bow River.

    This fine little trout stream enters the Bow River in the Town of Cochrane, with one bridge crossing that provides a good view of the stream. For anyone that drives or walks over the bridge, they will first notice that it is a pretty little stream.

    The result of this first encounter with the Jumpingpound Creek, usually arouses the curiosity of many new comers to the area. Especially if they are fly fishers.

    With the new regulations restricting the harvest of rainbow trout, it is a catch and release fishery for this variety of the trout family. Protecting these rainbows in the creek will insure that we have a relatively good population in this reach of the Bow River.

    Fortunately, and after a lot of hard work by fisheries managers, landowners and other stakeholders over the years, the stream has received the protection that it so rightly deserves!

    The fact that the JP is a protected stream, makes it a little easier to answer questions about the sport fishery in the creek.

    No need to treat the topic like a well kept secret anymore, when compared to years earlier, when it was important not to advertise the potential of good fishing on the stream.

    I may not fly fish on the Jumpingpound Creek as much as I use to, but when I do get out on the water of this beautiful freestone trout stream, I enjoy it immensely!

    One of the most recent developments on the JP Creek that will benefit the overall trout fishery, is the partnership between many of the landowners on the stream and the “Cows and Fish Program”.

    As a result of this partnership, large areas of the stream are being protected from the impacts of livestock. With this program in the works, the riparian zone has started its recovery.

    In recent years I have noticed quit a difference in the amount of new growth along the stream!

Left Photo:

    This fine 23 inch rainbow trout was caught and released after the photo, by the publisher, in late July, on the Jumpingpound Creek. Fish of this size are rare in the stream, but over the years I have managed to hook into a few of them.

    They are full bodied trout that seem to find plenty of food in the JP, to grow to this size, if they are protected by regulation!

Above:

A Caddis Fly Larva builds a protective case of small pebbles around its abdomen or lower body.

Below :

Brook trout are spawning on Bighill Creek. They have managed to fan the spawning gravel beds clean, but whether any of the eggs will survive is left to speculation. At this site, there is plenty of silt on the streambed, just upstream!

Watch Video
 of these 
Trout Spawning

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